April 20, 2012

Indefinite Pronouns

Indefinite pronouns are pronouns that refer to unspecified things, people, or places, etc.

Examples in English include “someone”, “something”, “nothing”, “everyone”, etc. “Everyone”, for instance, does not refer to any particular individual.

Indefinite Pronouns in Hindi

The two basic indefinite pronouns in Hindi are कोई and कुछ.

कोई and कुछ may be used as indefinite adjectives also.

Basic Difference

The basic difference between कोई and कुछ when used as pronouns is that कोई is used for people and कुछ is used for objects.

कोई वहाँ बैठा हुआ था – “Someone was sitting there”

कुछ वहाँ पड़ा हुआ था – “Something was lying there”

Negation

When negated, कोई means “no one”, and कुछ means “nothing”:

घर पे कोई नहीं है – “There is no one at home”

बक्से में कुछ नहीं था – “There was nothing in the box”

Oblique Case

The oblique form of कोई is किसी and the oblique form of कुछ is किस.

किसीको चाय चाहिए – “Does anyone want tea?”

किस में सामान रख दिया तुमने – “What did you store the luggage in?”

  • Matthew Chang

    In sentences in which “nobody” is used as a subject, does the negation come bundled with the कोई / कुछ , or does the negation get bundled into the verb phrase?

    If we were to translate “Nobody believes in me”, would we say:

    कोई नहीं मुझपर विश्वास करता है,

    or

    कोई मुझपर विश्वास नहीं करता है?

    I think whatever rule applies here would work for any indefinite word, wouldn’t it?

    To translate “Nowhere is better than here” we would say

    कहीं नहीं यहाँ से अच्छा है

    or

    कहीं यहाँ से अच्छा नहीं है

    • Good question. Let’s look at a few examples:

      We could say: मुझे कोई नहीं पहचानता
      But, we would NOT say: कोई नहीं मुझे पहचानता
      We could say: किसी ने मुझे नहीं पहचाना

      So, from these examples, we can observe a few things:

      1. नहीं obeys the normal syntax – it immediately precedes the verb, etc.
      2. कोई and नहीं are adjacent, if possible
      3. In some situations, कोई and नहीं are forced apart, e.g. when using ने

      Regarding your second question, वहां and यहां can’t be used like “here” in the sentence “nowhere is better than here”, in which “here” is used like a noun. In Hindi, we’d use a noun, such as जगह. Also, we’d use “कोई जगह” (“anywhere”), not कहीं (“somewhere”). इस जगह से कोई जगह अच्छी नहीं है.

      We can say मैं सायली के यहां जानेवाला हूं (“I’m going to go to Sayali’s place”), but यहां is not a noun in such sentences either.

      We can use वहां and यहां with postpositions, e.g. यहां तक कि as in “उसको बिल्लियां बहुत पसंद हैं, यहां तक कि उसने एक वेबसाइट बनाई है जो बिल्लियां को समर्पित है” (“She really likes cats, so much so that she has made a website that is devoted to cats”), or यहां से as in “यहां से चले जाओ” (“Get out of here!”), etc. यहां से typically would mean “away from here”.

      • Matthew Chang

        Hi David,

        Thanks for the explanation! So, wouldn’t we say कोई मुझपर विश्वास नहीं करता है because rule 1 applies and कोई and नहीं cannot be adjacent in this case, being forced apart by मुझपर विश्वास. Or, just as in मुझे कोई नहीं पहचानता, can we put the object in front, so we could say मुझपर विश्वास कोई नहीं करता है?

        • You’re welcome! Yes, we would say either “कोई मुझपर विश्वास नहीं करता”, or “मुझपर कोई विश्वास नहीं करता”. The negative particle generally comes between the noun and the verb in conjunct verbs like “विश्वास करना”. Note that Hindi speakers generally don’t use the auxiliary verb (e.g. है) when the verb is negated, but it is correct to do so. X पर विश्वास करना = “to believe in X”, i.e. to trust or have faith in X. In English we say “no one believes me”, but in Hindi we’d say “मेरी बात पर कोई विश्वास नहीं करता”.